West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for July delivery finished higher Friday, gaining 23 cents to settle at $52.51 per barrel. Compared to the June 7 close, the WTI is down 2.7 percent.  August Brent futures also rose, adding 70 cents to end the day at $62.01 per barrel. Week-on-week, Brent is down two percent.

Tom Seng, Assistant Professor of Energy Business at the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, observed that crude oil entered its fourth week of a bearish trend this past week. He added that weakening demand and a surprise increase in inventory overshadowed the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.

“Lower early week trading reflected ongoing concerns about the global economy and possibly lower demand for oil while a bearish inventory report only served to propel prices even lower Wednesday,” said Seng. “With the threat of tariffs on Mexican imports delayed, the market turned this week to the continuing lack of a trade agreement between the U.S. and China as a factor in a possible global economic slowdown along with actual weaker economic data coming out of China.”

Seng also noted that increasing U.S. oil inventories, coupled with tepid gasoline demand and record U.S. production, cast a “solid bearish slant” on market fundamentals. He said that Wednesday’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed: